Businesses need education to fight human trafficking

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GEORGE TOWN: Educating companies on the pros and cons of dealing with foreign workers could help improve Malaysia’s ranking in the US State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report, says Datuk Seri Wong Siew Hai, president of the Malaysia Semiconductor Industry Association .

Commenting on the fact that Malaysia has been ranked at the bottom for the second year in a row, Wong said different industries handle issues differently, but it is clear that Malaysia must meet the requirements set out in the report.

“No debt to the company, no obligations imposed on the foreign workers, not withholding their passports and paying any necessary fees before coming into the country so that no debt is incurred – these are some of the requirements.

“In the electronics industry we have a much higher standard – we stick to what has been set. But there are other industries that are not yet following the rules even when it comes to accommodation.

“I believe the other industries are catching up and looking for solutions, but if they don’t, I’m sure they will be sanctioned,” Wong said at his meeting yesterday.

“One way to meet minimum standards for eliminating trafficking in human beings is to educate companies on issues like withholding the passports of their foreign workers.

“In fact, some companies don’t want to keep their employee passports. They say it’s the workers who insist their passports be kept by their employers lest they be misplaced.

“If they ask us, we’ll keep it for them. By helping them keep them, even if there are papers showing they have authorized the company to keep their passports, it’s still not acceptable,” he added.

Companies need to get their foreign workers to take responsibility for their own passports, Wong stressed.

“Every company must implement and execute its plans to improve the treatment of foreign workers,” he said.

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